The brass section play their last notes and “The Look of Love Part Four” finishes. It is silent in the room now and I savour that contrast. I am sitting on the sofa with the dog sitting on my lap. When I open my eyes, the poodle is alertly scanning the room, probably trying to find something to put in its place by barking at it. I have been thinking about dancing and music, about how important they have been in my teenage years and how I seem to have forgotten the pleasure they gave me.

I needed a break after I finished writing my last post. I could have started writing the post I thought about last night but instead it occurred to me that the house was empty and now was a good time to put on something to sing to. I looked at the CDs on their racks and nothing stood out, so I settle on Foreigner’s “Yesterday”, a rather challenging track for this bass-baritone to pull off but it is short (abruptly too short IMO) whose lyrics really appeal to me. It is apparent shortly after the opening synthesizer rift that today is not a good day for my upper register so I sing an octave down which doesn’t have the same intensity for me. I replace the CD on the rack and spy “The Lexicon of Love” by ABC. I love this album in its entirety, sure it has its wonderful hits but the album as a whole is solid, well-crafted and treasured.

The dog likes it too. From the start I am singing and dancing, and he joins in the merriment by bouncing around too, though thankfully deciding not to howl. As the album progresses, I am reminded how much repetitive actions calm me, how much I enjoy swimming and cycling. I let myself dance in whatever manner I want, even to the extent of pulling my hands out of my pockets and waving the around (or whatever), something I always found difficult as a teenager. I am dancing more freely than I did as a kid though definitely not gaining so much height off the ground. To my surprise I keep dancing and singing for over half an hour and only stop on the penultimate track. I am feeling a lot of affection for my dog and knee down in front of him, gently stroking him, mutually benefiting from the touch. It occurs to me that perhaps my ability to show affection is related to these meditative exercises I like.

As I sit I remember my teenage years when I went to nightclubs and discos. I never wanted to go to these things by myself, having a fear that nobody else would turn up, but somehow I managed it with the support of my Dad giving me a lift to the venue. The only reason I went was to dance with my friends. The music was always too loud for me to understand what they said, or for my quiet voice to be heard so instead I would literally dance the night away only stopping occasionally for a pint of water to replenish the fluid I had sweated away. I must have been fit in those days, I would be dancing for hours. The girls in the group loved that I would always be ready or even waiting on the dance floor for them to join in because the other boys were always reluctant dancers whom made little effort whereas as Sister Sledge sang, I got lost in music.

I look back now and know that my dancing was a survival technique. I couldn’t cope with those noise levels without being carried away to another place by the beat of the music and the emotion of the words for somehow, songs allowed me to express my emotions that seemed in the normal world to elude me. The song enabled me to come alive in some emotional sense, though whether that was apparent from the outside I don’t know, I certainly feel more emotional when I am singing. I do wonder if that is the actor in me though, channelling the writer’s words rather than mine.

At the end of the day, music and dance are still both a refuge and a source of strength for me so I really could do with trying to fit more into my life. It is good exercise too after all, though maybe I will have to relocate some of the chairs in this room, or perhaps build a dance studio in the garden. 😊

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